Dozens arrested in NYC as protesters mark anniversary of Eric Garner’s death

New York July 17, 2015 © Eduardo Munoz
At least two-dozen people were arrested in New York at demonstrations marking the one-year anniversary of the death of Eric Garner from Staten Island. Garner died after being placed in a chokehold by police, and protesters are still demanding reform.

Several thousand people gathered at Columbus Circle on Friday evening chanting, “Shame! Shame! Shame!” as they continued to press for criminal justice and police reform.

One the dozens of arrests in midtown Manhattan was for using a bullhorn. The New York Police Department (NYPD) requires a permit to use bullhorns at rallies and demonstrations.

Overall, police filled at least three vans with arrested protesters, according to accounts from those at the scene.

During the night, people marched along Central Park, heading south down Sixth Avenue, accompanied by lines of police officers loaded up with plastic handcuffs, and other officers on scooters. Many held signs saying “Strong communities make police obsolete,” and “end police brutality.”

Towards Herald Square, people held a moment of silence and staged a sit-in.

Demonstrators also marched to Penn Station.

As they traveled south to 21st Street, they continued to be accompanied by police.

The rally ended at Union Square, but people were seen heading towards One Police Plaza, where those who were arrested were taken.

Earlier in the day on Staten Island, Garner’s youngest daughter, Legacy Miller, and her mother, Jewel Miller, released doves in front of the Tompkinsville store where Garner literally took his last breath.

One group of 20 rode the Staten Island Ferry to mark the anniversary.

Garner was stopped by police on July 17, 2014 because they believed he was selling loose cigarettes. A video shot by an onlooker shows Garner, who was black, telling the officers to leave him alone and refusing to be handcuffed.

Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is white, placed his arm around Garner’s neck to take him down. Garner is heard gasping and saying “I can’t breathe!” 11 times before losing consciousness.

His death, coupled with police killings of unarmed black men elsewhere, spurred protests around the country against law enforcement’s treatment of black men.

The city medical examiner found the chokehold had contributed to Garner’s death, declaring it a homicide, but a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo.

Chokeholds are banned by NYPD policy. Pantaleo has said that he used a legal takedown maneuver known as a seatbelt, not a chokehold.

 New York July 17, 2015. © Eduardo Munoz

Garner’s family reached a settlement of nearly $6 million with the city of New York this week over the death – the largest in the city’s history involving a police officer causing the death of a civilian.

Garner’s family said that the civil settlement didn’t mean victory and vowed to continue pressing for federal civil rights charges.

New York July 17, 2015 © Eduardo Munoz

The Justice Department and US attorney’s office in Brooklyn are investigating whether there is enough evidence to warrant charges against the officer for deliberately violating Garner’s civil rights. Such cases are rare after a grand jury decides against an indictment.

New York July 17, 2015 © Eduardo Munoz

Pantaleo has not been on active duty in the year since Garner’s death and remains under an internal affairs review. The NYPD is refraining from making any decisions on Pantaleo’s future with the department until after the federal probe has been completed.